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"Here in my car", said 80s pop hero Gary Numan, "I feel safest of all". He obviously never shared the same stretch of road as me, then. Automotive tales of mirth and woe, please.

(, Thu 22 Apr 2010, 12:34)
Pages: Latest, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, ... 1

This question is now closed.

Ok, tenuous link, but this is something I have been thinking recently on my cycle into work...
When you are in a car, you take as much care as possible to not run over pedestrians, rear end other cars, slam on your brakes for no reason, pull out without indicating in front of someone, run red lights (most people do this, anyway).

Why is it, that so many cyclists flout these rules? I stop for red lights, signal, and try not to cut people up. But every day, on my cycle in, I see other cyclists being bell-ends (is that hyphen warranted?). People are safer in cars (yes! Linked it to the question), than they are on bikes, but why do they act like such morons?
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 14:06, 39 replies)
Black Mini MNB 671P #1
Deathtrap on 4 wheels.

After writing off my first MK1 Escort after 3 weeks of ownership my dad gave me one of his crappy little runarounds that he'd traded in lieu of payment for works done or something.

Everything was well for a few months until the age of the vehicle started to cause problems.

The start of it all was shortly after I was enjoying a bit of 'is it in yet?' in a tent in a campside in Wales with the Girlfriend. The mrs popped her head out through the flaps (hee flaps!) to get her breath back after what was undoubtedly the best seeing-to she'd had all day.

"Seaman Gabber, where's the car?"
"Haha. It's outside the tent you wheeze."
"No. The car's gone!"
"Weak joke."

Of course it hadn't. Our squelchy bouncing game hadn't been that epic that I wouldn't have noticed someone robbing my car.

"The fucking car has gone, look!" as she opens the flaps wider (snort).

Yep. The car wasn't there any more.

Pulling me kecks on and popping out out of the canvas tent of love like a cork I was able to get a clearer view of the situation. After a brief scan I saw my car, it was 1/2 way down the field parked snugly inbetween 2 other tents. It was clear from the arc that it'd taken that the handbrake had come off the ratchet and with the steering locked the wee beast had arced its way down the field, probably gathering quite a bit of pace before coming to a halt a metre or so from certain disaster.

After surveying that there were no demolished tents in its path I casually walked to the car in my grundies, got in, started it up and drove it back to where it should have been all along. I'm pretty sure I double checked the handbrake that time.
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 14:06, 4 replies)
Attempted Porcine-cide
My mate Steve's one of those drivers that appears to put blinkers on when he gets in the car.
And matching ear-plugs.

One night, driving along the A12 near Romford, where there are traffic lights every 100 yards, we pulled up next to a VW Golf. We were in his old 1600 Cortina (well, not old at the time, but neither were we).

Lights change, and off we go, with the Golf edging ahead. Steve thinks it's a race and speeds up. He's obviously smelling victory when the Golf slows down a bit and we get ahead.

He didn't however, hear his passengers screaming "STEVE - For fuck's sake SLOW DOWN. There are coppers in the road.". It was a speed trap, and 2 brightly dressed officers of the law are in the road, flagging each lane down. The Golf's seen them, but Steve manages to plough on, realizing his but mistake 10' from launching the copper into orbit.

I didn't know they had ropes attached to the poor sods given the short straw of standing in the middle of the road. They pulled him out of the way quite sharpish, if I remember.
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 13:57, Reply)
Courtesy of my mate Mark... one of the most Sarcastic people ever.
Picture it, 1am, local garage forecourt.

Mark is refilling the radiator on his dodgy old Maestro, composed mainly of bodyfiller and newspaper.

Our wonderful boys in blue turn up, pull right up to the door of his car, get out, notebook in hand, and utter the immortal line 'Is this your car, Sir?'

Mark, being Mark -

-"No Officer, I steal peoples cars and do routine maintenance on them'.

Handcuffs hurt. As does 'accidentally' having your head whacked on the way into the Police car. Apparently. No sense of humour, that lot.
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 13:39, 3 replies)
Not paying parking tickets...
... is easy if you know how. I have a 1981 Citroën CX Break, which is 16'7" long. That's 9" longer than either a Volvo V70 or a Hummer H2. It is A Big Car. Now it turns out that most of the parking spaces in Glasgow are a couple of inches shorter than that, so wherever I park I tend to have one of the massive stainless steel bumpers overhanging the line. This tends to attract the attention of the parking attendants. Apparently, however, they're only supposed to ticket vehicles that are outwith the marked bays *if* there was ever a chance of them fitting into the bay. Mostly they don't bother now.
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 13:03, 3 replies)
My car
Is fucking cursed.

I bought it in October, it's a lovely Audi A3 with the 1.8 litre turbo in it. Lovely bright red, still deep and glossy. Full leather and low miles. Gorgeous to drive and not too bad on the petrol.

However, since i've owned it, I've had somebody go up the back of it, causing 700 pounds worth of damage; I've reversed it into a concrete pillar in a car park, causing 450 pounds worth of damage; it's started rusting from underneath the roof guttering, causing 180 pounds worth of damage; a persistant breathing problem which has so far totalled 600 pounds worth of bills, still unresolved I think. I've also had the reg plates nicked for unfathomable reasons.

There is something about owning a bright red car that seems to really anger other drivers, too. I've never had so many people cutting me up, seemingly in a determined effort to cause even more damage to my lovely, lovely motor. The most notable example was an old guy in a Rover P5b, I know it was a "b" because of the thunder of the V8 came right through my window as he swerved maniacally at the front of my Audi. Rover P5bs haven't been seen on the road for thirty years and the first one to make an appearance tries to kill me.
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 12:26, 6 replies)
I was 'surfing' the speed-cameras coming out of London towards the M40 late one evening. A car was driving right up my arse and when I made a particularly sharp brake, wiped out to avoid going into the back of me. And I mean REALLY wiped out. It hit the central reservation in a cloud of dust and parts then skidded back over the hard shoulder where it gradually came to a halt.

I just kept going because I had bad things in the car of which plod might have disapproved, and because I just sort of panicked. Legal eagles out there, did I have a duty to stop? Even as I sped off I could see other cars slowing to help, so the unfortunate occupants weren't completely left to their own devices...
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 12:21, 5 replies)
I used to temp in the post room of the car parking fines office of Hammersmith & Chelsea.
Fines came in in four types: £30, £60, £90 and "Other". Lots of cheques from Deloitte & Touche (or whoever - that there posh bank what only allows rich people in).

However, among the notable surprises were a note saying "Who the fuck are you - Tony Blair's personal trained monkey?" stapled to a fine that was timed and dated "0901 01-01-99", the cheque that someone had wiped their arse on clearing out the whole post room, the cheque stapled to the ticket a hundred times making it unusable, and a fiver coming in with a note attached saying in faint, very spindly writing "I'm awfully sorry for parking in the wrong place. I was visiting the doctor for my friend Ethel. I can't afford to pay you £30 in one payment as my pension is only £40, but I can pay you £5 a week for six weeks - here is my first instalment. I hope you are happy to agree to this."
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 12:17, 7 replies)
High speed chase
Way way back in 1996 I was a fresh-faced fresher, fresh from school and living in university halls, or rather a large house, shared with 16 or 17 other lads, that was attached to the university halls. One evening a few of us rather fancied a curry so I offered to do the gentlemanly thing and drive us to the local takeout in my trusty VW Polo, not too far away in Oadby. Off we set, three in the back and two in the front, starving and really looking forward to tucking into a nice Indian meal.

I'll never know quite what it was that tipped me off, but just as I checked the mirrors and went to indicate to pull onto the kerb outside the restaurant, I clocked the car behind us. It was full of large, scowling Asian guys and for some reason I got the crazy idea they were following us. "Hang on lads," I said to the car at large, "I just wanna try something." Instead of stopping at the restaurant I went around the block, all the time watching the car behind me. As we came level with the curry house again, they were still behind us. I had been right, they *were* following us. I panicked slightly, as the lads in my car were not the 20-stone rugby players I also lived with, but rather the more nerdy and weedy members of our household. If I stopped the car and there was trouble, we were going to get creamed.

What to do? Call home and arrange a welcoming committee of 20-stone rugby players? Nice thought, but then they'd know where we lived. All thoughts of Indian food now forgotten, I had to come up with a plan. I floored the accelerator and headed out down the London Road towards Leicester town centre. The car followed, my (now nervous) friends squinting out of the back window, trying to take down the number plate. Every time we approached a set of traffic lights I tried a different trick like slowing down on green so the lights would change to red just as they got there (no joy, they just ran the red light), indicating left and making to turn then going straight ahead (they indicated too, went to turn and then followed us) and running red lights myself to try and escape this unprovoked menace. Eventually I had a brainwave. "Let's see them try to follow this," I said and stepped on it again, heading right into the town centre at a sharpish lick. They matched our speed and pulled in tight behind us. At the last possible second I flipped the indicator stick down and swerved left into the entrance to a car park. They also indicated left and made to pull into the car park, no doubt relishing the kicking they were going to give us students, but veered away sharply and rejoined the main road when they saw where I had led them.

I had pulled into the police station car park. Explaining our story to the bemused officer at the front desk, he took their registration number and promised that he'd send it out to all officers, meaning that they would have a very difficult evening ahead if they planned to continue driving as every squad car in Leicester was going to pull them over.

We never did find out why they were following us - I can only assume beating students was just their way of getting kicks. I never did get a curry though.
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 12:00, 6 replies)
My mate parked up
and when he came back, some parking bloke had just stuck a ticket on the car. The reason was that his car was just slightly hanging out of the parking bay and onto the start of the yellow lines.

After trying to make the traffic warden see reason, which was completely futile, my mate suddenly resigned to receiving the ticket, got into his car and drove off.

The reason he gave in so easily? He noticed that the reg number on the ticket was wrong.
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 11:58, 6 replies)
So many reasons...
...that I'm glad I don't even have a licence.
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 11:49, 2 replies)
Handbrake turns
Not recommended on wet grass. Especially when the grass is a campsite.
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 11:28, 1 reply)
My dad is a genial, original mad scientist-type chap - think a very British version of Doc from Back To The Future - but balder and with a beard.
He was pulled over one day on the motorway as we were going on holiday.

Two young coppers came over, and one of them, after leering at my teenage sister, said in that awful, bullying, I'm-only-being-polite-out-of-my-own-kindness way "WOULD you like to step out of the car, Sir?"

They took him 'round to the back of the car.

"Your onside tail-light, Sir will notice, appears to not be working, Sir. I hope that Sir realises that this is very dangerous and serious offence ... Sir." he sneered.

"Hm." my dad said, and gave it a kick. "It is now."

They fined him £80.
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 10:39, 1 reply)
I won't go in to the whole long and boring story
So here's the shortened version.

Brother rented a car, on last day came out to find massive deep scratch down the passenger side. Dropped car back of to rental place and told them about scratch. Sat for over an hour filling in paperwork etc before they checked the car documents. Written under notes was. Large deep scratch on passenger side.
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 10:21, 3 replies)
Adelaide police are great!
Years ago while playing in bands it was common practice for me to get utterly trashed after gigs at the nearby Flinders Uni and drive the 300-400m home.
Yes I know drink driving is stupid, but it was all of about five minutes from the back of the Uni tavern door to where I lived, none of it on actual roads (all uni grounds) and none of it anywhere near a house. No excuse, I know, but bear with me.
So after playing, the guitarist and I pack up my car and pile in to drive home and I see a sign that says "way out" near the exit.
"That'll look brilliant on our wall!" I think, so I drive up to it and then reverse back, pushing the thing over.
I've had about four attempts at it when "woooowooo!" and flashing lights, there's a cop car about 20m away with two cops in it staring in amazement. They come over.
"What the hell are you doing?"
"Umm (thinking fast) I was driving out when I got too close to this sign and I think the bumper's hooked so I'm trying to get it unhooked."
"No, I don't think so, we watched you drive up and reverse straight into it. How drunk ARE you?"
"Fairly, I must admit."
"Listen, we don't have time for this, someone's been stealing cars from this car park for weeks and we're here in case they show up so just park your car and piss off and we'll pretend this never happened."
"No, sorry, can't do that."
"WHAT? This is not negotiable, park your car and go home. I'll be removing the distributor cap and dropping it in your letterbox, you can come get it tomorrow."
"You can't do that, there's about $6,000 worth of amplifiers and guitars in the car, I can't leave them here."
"Right..." (insert hushed conversation between the cops) "Right. Get in... No, the passenger side, where do you live?"
And the cop drove me home, with his partner following.
There were beer cans on the floor, the steering was slack, the car was a mess. He spent the short trip telling me how many fines he'd have been delighted to give me if he had more time and how lucky I was, then parked the car and left.
The next day animated I spent abour an hour trying to figure out if it had actually happened before the guitarist wandered in and said "How about those cops eh?"
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 2:40, 7 replies)
Escort XR3i, Boxing Day.
First post, go easy!

A number of years back I was an impressionable 19 year old, with a similarly aged Escort XR3i Cabriolet. It was Grey, all the gear from the RS Turbo model, a real looker. It cost me £1900, and the same to insure Third Party Fire & Theft. In reality, it was a dog, I used to leave it unlocked at night (and all day at work) in the vain hope that someone would steal it. No-one did.

So, one Boxing Day, I call up my Mate Joe. "Fancy going up to (the closed) Sainsbury's car park and doing some handbrake turns? Coppers won't be working on Boxing Day so we shouldn't have no trouble"
Yeah, comes the reply and ten minutes later we're hurtling through the town at somewhere between 80 and 90 MPH.
So far, so good, as we pull in to Sainsbury's car park- I've slowed down by this point and am about to round the corner by the petrol station when *screeeeeeeechhhhhhh* I lock the front wheels on some diesel and bump up the kerb and smash through their fence.
No worries, think I. It's Boxing Day, no-one will know, we'll just go home and pretend it never happened. I'm just about to put the car in reverse, when *whooo-whoooo-screeeechhhh* a Police Car comes flying into the car park and blocks me in. I get out.
Me: Not very, about 30
Cop: I really had to put my foot down to keep up with you
Me (spying plods measly Focus with no Camera/Speed recording gear): Nope, didn't go above 30, I'm sure.
Cop: Whose car is this?
Me: Mine
Cop: What is it?
Me: An Escort
Cop: Whose is it?
Me: Mine
Cop: And What is it?
Me: An Escort
Cop: What type?
Me: XR3i
Cop: Whose is it?
Me: Mine- I just said
Cop: How can you afford it?
Me: I have a job
Cop: Is it yours?
Me (growing tired by now): Yes (the previous questions are repeated a few more times, before he eventually gets the message that yes, it's mine, and it is an Escort.)
Cop: I'm just thinking what I can do you for...
Me: Okay
Cop: I reckon speeding and dangerous driving
Me: I wasn't speeding. I hit some diesel and skidded, it was an accident
Cop: Well I won't do you for dangerous driving, but you'll be up for speeding
Me: Except I wasn't, and even if I was you can't prove it.
Cop: We'll see about that- in the mean time you're going to have to pay to get this fence fixed
Me: I'll fix it myself- half my family are carpenters, I should be able to manage (not strictly a lie- it's my mothers maiden name)
Cop: Okay, but i'll be giving your details to the manager of Sainsburys. Be on your way.

I went up a few days later and smashed a few nails into the fence. It fell down a few days later.

You might think I fought the law, but I won. I kind of did, but a few days later came an £800 garage bill, so I guess karma had the last laugh.

The bit that pissed me off the most though? I never got to do any handbrake turns.
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 1:57, 4 replies)
Motorway Madness!
Picture the scene....

...3:40am on a Weds, the beginning of January, perfectly clear night - somewhere on the A1 between Wetherbey and Durham and Mister B is driving home to Newcastle after a jaunt down to the parents house for Birthday shenanigans....

...The countryside is pitchblack, young Mister B hasnt passed a car, van, lorry or truck in miles and an idea starts to form in his mind....

...after convincing himself for several minutes Mister B slips the car out of gear and allows it to coast down to a halt, in the middle lane of a deserted A1, in near pitch darkness and total silence apart from the low dull buzz of the nearest dimly lit streetlamp...

...He puts on the handbrake and shuts off the ignition...

...throws open his car door...

...does a quick lap of the car....

...dives back in the driver side door, starts up the engine and continues the rest of his journey uneventfully.

Once in a lifetime opportunity - tell me you wouldn't have done the same.

length: A 360mile round trip PLUS the circumference of a Freelander!
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 0:54, 6 replies)
Have this pea.
About, ooh, 12½ years ago now, I went to Finland to visit a chum.

I missed my first flight after I turned up at the airport sans wallet. "No problem, Sir. We don't need your credit card to issue your ticket; your passport is sufficient."
"Yes, but I'll be in Helsinki with no money and no means of getting any, and I'm expecting to hire a car. They'll want to see my credit card, even if you don't. I'm going home to get my plastic and Finnish cash. I'll get the next flight."

I arrived in Helsinki many, many hours later than planned (around midnight, as I recall), only to find all the car rental desks closed for the night, with only a single chap on duty for all of them and handling paperwork and keys for late arrivals such as me.

At the time I wasn't quite 25 years old, which meant I could only hire a limited selection of cars. Apparently Avis' insurance company felt that anyone under 25 couldn't be trusted with anything larger than a Ford Fiesta. How prescient of them...

So I rocked up at the Avis desk expecting to be given the key to a Fiesta or whatever Lilliputian equivalent they had in Finland. After much searching by the attendant, and a couple of phone calls to an apparently higher authority, he eventually handed me the key to something called a Nissan Primera. I'd no idea what it was; I wasn't a car nerd. It was a set of wheels. Off I trotted to the car park to find it.

"Hmm. This is a bit bigger than expected. And it's got an SRi badge on the back? I'm sure this can't be what I paid for. Ah well. Too late now. Vrooooom!"

Since Finland has a population half that of London, the roads are pretty quiet at any time of day. At night, a traffic jam is seeing another vehicle somewhere off in the distance. And 2 litres of finest Japanese engineering travels rather rapidly when the callow youth behind the wheel decides to pretend that the speed limit signs are in MPH rather than KPH. I arrived in Kuopio roughly two-and-a-half hours later. Good thing the Finnish plod were all tucked up in bed.

The next night, after dropping my chum off at home I headed back to the hotel. I discovered that one is supposed to give way to traffic coming from the right at intersections. Driving on the right, as they do, one might have thought the rule would be to give way to the left, kind of the inverse of what we do here. But no. Fortunately the fellow piloting the other car floored it when he saw me coming, so I only took his rear bumper off instead of putting a Primera-shaped dent in the side of his ride. When I called the next morning to say I'd be late because of sorting out the insurance paperwork my chum said, "Yes, I know. I've already heard." Turns out the passenger in the car was my chum's housemate. Small world.

The damage to the Primera? Minor crack to the front bumper, and one of the headlamp wipers was slightly out of alignment. Avis offered a replacement vehicle, but I turned it down. After all, the damage was only cosmetic, and minor at that. It wasn't as if I'd written it off...

The rest of the weekend passed uneventfully and I set out on the trip back to the airport. While cruising along at a somewhat more sedate speed (obeying the 120KPH limit this time), about an hour away from the airport, I heard an almighty bang, then the car twitched violently and started bouncing along the grass verge at the side of the motorway.

"No problem," thought I, surprisingly rationally, "I'll just brake very gently, 'cause I'm on a low-friction surface, and make sure I keep the car in a straight line. Everything will be fine."

There was another almighty bang, and the windscreen turned opaque and cracked. The steering wheel airbag burst between my bare forearms (I still have a faint scar from it; I tell people I used to be a cutter). "Fucksocks," thought I, "guess I'd better plant the brake and hope."

After finally stopping the car, I got out and found out what had happened. The first almighty bang was the rear-left tyre bursting. The second almighty bang was a concrete lump smashing into the underside of the engine, shoving the battery up into the bonnet, breaking the bonnet away from the catch and sending it hurtling into the windscreen, before momentum carried the car over the lump and further along the verge. The Finns run pipes along the sides of motorways, I later found out, and the concrete lump I'd hit was the cap on an entrance to one of these pipes.

Avis collected the remains of the car and paid for a rather expensive taxi ride for the rest of the way to the airport.

So, however much a new Nissan Primera SRi was (I'm sure the concrete lump must have shifted the engine, which is usually a write-off), plus the taxi & recovery costs, plus the repair bill to the car I hit a couple of days previously, is what it cost Avis for the mistake of lending me something their own policies said they shouldn't, because it was late at night and the attendant wanted to get rid of me and go home.

And all because I left my wallet at home.
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 0:35, Reply)
In 1989 desperate for some cheap wheels for a couple of weeks, I bought a grey 76 Ford Capri ghia for £40 of a bloke I was fixing windows with at the time. No mot, no tax completely uninsured with a broken locked boot. I had it for a couple of weeks and curiosity got better of me and I got in the boot through the ripping through the back seats and amongst some dirty clothes found 10 quality hard core porn films which was way before they were easy to get, sold then on the building site I was working on for a fiver each and subsequently left the car next to travellers site as i no longer needed it. It duly disappeared, never to be seen again.
It got me around for a month with a tenner profit!
although looking back now not proud, blah blah, highly dangerous, blah blah, irresponsible blah blah...
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 23:52, 1 reply)
My dad..
..always bought cheap cars at auctions but cannily made sure he had full AA membership so he could get home when they inevitably conked out on him. This saved us a couple of times while driving through France or returning from Calais loaded up with too much beer and Blanc de Blanc. I think he actually lost count of the amount of times he was towed or carried back to base in the UK. Definitely got his money's worth.

In the early 2000s he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and was having a dreadful time fighting it. My brother (in Devon) and I (in London) visited him at home in Yorkshire one weekend when he really wasn't very well at all. He suggested it would be a good idea if we took his car (a silver Skoda Favorit if I remember correctly) thinking it would make it easier for us to see him as we both lived so far away. So, when we left I drove the car to London and my brother drove himself from there to Devon. We'd agreed to go back the following weekend.

Sadly, dad's situation worsened towards the end of that week (he was now in hospital) so my brother and I decided we should get back up there as soon as possible. He'd just finished work and said he'd set off soon and would call me on the way from Devon. He'd be in London around midnight.

By 1am I was getting worried that he hadn't shown up. I'd been in telephone contact with my family at the hospital and our dad's condition was grave. By 2am I still hadn't heard from my brother. I was getting pretty frantic - a mixture of desperately wanting to get to the hospital and hoping like hell he hadn't crashed the car in his efforts to get to me.

At 5am, still with no sign of my brother, I had a call from my sister. Dad had died. I really didn't know what to do at that point. At about 6am my brother finally turned up. He'd been so knackered he'd pulled over for a quick nap and woken up several hours later. Anyway, he was here now, I broke the news to him and we decided the best thing would be to set off straight away. Since he'd had some sleep he agreed to drive.

So there we were, driving up north in a crappy Skoda to join our grieving mother and sisters. Two brothers in a complete daze, barely able to speak and wondering what the hell could possibly be awaiting us. At least we had the car. Twenty miles from home there was a loud bang and smoke started pouring out from under the bonnet. We managed to pull into a service station a little way up the road. I think at this point we both thought the same thing at the same time: "What the fuck are we going to do now?"

We popped the bonnet, and even though neither of us were mechanically minded we could tell we were going nowhere. We sat in the car wondering what we could do to get home. Should we abandon it and get a taxi? Not enough money on us, and anyway, we were next to a motorway. Should we hitch? Not a good idea as it was now pouring with rain. Could we swap the knackered car for some bikes? My brother's idea, not mine. In the end, and as it was now late afternoon, we decided to do the one thing we really didn't want to do - call our mother. To her credit, not only did she take the news of us breaking down in such circumstances very calmly indeed, she came up with a brilliant suggestion: "What about the AA?" Why hadn't we thought of that!? Oh, hang on a minute, dad was covered personally, not the car. Damn. It was then our mother had her second brilliant idea of the day. My brother has the same initial as our father. Just call the AA and pretend to be him.

So, after a few minutes spent mustering whatever courage he could, my dear brother called the AA. He confirmed his name and address and membership number. His date of birth proved to be something of a problem though. Somehow, I remembered what it was. "31st May 1947," I whispered to him. "Who was that in the background?" asked the woman on the other end of the phone. "Oh, that's my son," replied my younger brother. After he'd said, "I don't have that information with me," a couple of times he gave the car registration and our location and I realised that this might just work. In fact, someone was to be with us within half an hour. So we waited.

As we waited, the sheer ridiculousness of the situation began to dawn on us. My brother had just impersonated his own recently deceased father in order to get roadside assistance for the broken down car our dad had given us so we could visit him on his death bed. An AA mechanic was to turn up expecting to find a fifty five year old man and his son, but would instead find two (half) brothers who really don't look an awful lot like one another, one supposedly the father despite the fact he's quite obviously a good bit younger than the supposed son who is in fact thirty one years old. If asked to prove he was who he said he was my brother reckoned he could hold his credit card between his finger tips in such a way that his middle initial (C) looked a bit like the L of our father's middle name. It didn't look very convincing. In fact it looked so stupid we both burst into fits of hysterical laughter. I don't think I've ever laughed so much before or since. It was weird. We finally decided we'd come clean with the AA guy when he arrived, though we had serious doubts we could tell him of our plight without laughing, something which would seriously undermine the credibility of our story. He finally showed up two hours later, by which time we'd regained our composure. He put our car on the back of his truck and we finally arrived at our parents' house fourteen hours after our dad had passed away. Despite being in a terrible state, my mother made sure (as always) the AA guy got a bottle of wine for his troubles (probably one they'd helped bring back from Calais) and my brother and I embarked on the worst week of our lives.

Sorry for the length of this but it's the only way I can tell it.
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 23:44, 3 replies)
Morroco and an ancient Renault 4
Back in 1986, the nearly Mrs Nimrodihnio (the American model, pre the present Mrs N) and I decided on the spur of the moment to fly from Paris to Marrakech on a romantic whim and see the delights of the souk, the Atlas and the Sahara.
Our hire car was an old grey Renault 4 which barely had room for my small rucksack and TAM's 5 large pieces of Louis Vitton trunk and luggage (inc one simply for her makeup) Unfortunately TAM did not know how to drive a ‘stick shift’, I could drive but I hadn't the courage to tell her I hadn't passed my test yet.
So we set off and had a marvellous adventure being hassled by the scurrilous locals, catching amoebic dysentery by possibly eating cat tagine identified by French vetenary student we were dining with (although they might have been winding us up) an attempted rape (not by me you understand) but balanced by the little Renault chugging through scenes of biblical beauty, wheezingly ascending the Atlas mountains, past vast fields Morocco’s best export and taking in the edge of the Sahara in Zagora.
But I decided to take what appeared to be a 50 km short cut on the map to go to Agadir and after the road gradually petered out and ended up following a goat track, woefully unprepared, looking at wild camels in the distance in the middle of absolutely fucking nowhere with only a litre bottle of water and some dates, I was seriously shitting myself as I hadn’t checked oil, water or any basic equipment in case something went wrong. TAM was thankfully oblivious to the situation and just past the middle of nowhere we picked up two Berber tribesmen who somehow squeezed in and just kept pointing toward the horizon. In the back of my mind I kept thinking my throat would be cut and TAM sold into white slavery in my overactive imagination.
Thankfully the Renault managed the extra load on a track better suited to an expedition Land Rover and we made it to a metalled road where we took pictures, shook hands and they departed, after pointing us in the right direction and set off into the desert on the other side of the road.
After a few hours’ drive we were stopped by the local gendarme straight out of central casting and I was now convinced midnight express was going to be my way of life for the next 30 years due to my illegal driving and provisional license. A stunning show of naive tourist flattery from TAM, picture taking with and by the TAM in her low cut top and shorts changed the mood of Khalid somewhat. The mirror shaded, overweight, unshaven and gun toting cop read the license with a great show of gravity and authority which was somewhat undermined by it being upside down.
I realised I might just get away with it as long as he didn’t find the 4 oz lump of fresh black 00 in the glove compartment, a souvenir from some kindly villagers which I had assured TAM was completely legal in Arabic countries.
He insisted on having a little look into car and due to the ramshackle state of the interior, the Kif thankfully went unnoticed amongst the detritus. The pressing of a large denomination of dirham into his hands earned the undying effusions of eternal fraternity between our three countries and we drove off into the sunset with the TAM completely unaware at how close my heart had been to giving out on many occasions that day.
The rest of the tour was uneventful and still have very fond memories of the sturdy and steady little French grey tin box that was the Renault 4.
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 23:03, 1 reply)
Just turn it off and on again
my mate and I where on a road trip of the USA in a monstrous Dodge Charger (seriously huge, we turned the passenger seat into an almost lie flat bed). Now we only had one scary moment which was this.

Shortly after pulling onto the highway i decided to put the radio on. Twiddle the buttons. Nothing happens. odd i thought, bit more fiddling but nothing. Then i look at my dash. Everything has stopped working (bar the speedometer it seemed.). no lights (getting dare), noon board computer, no AC, nada. all the electrics where dead.

Feck passed through my mind, wondering if that would affect the power steering (when a V6 engine is considered underpowered for a 4 tonne car thats worrying). Thank fully not.

So we pulled over and discovered that American cars are like MS windows. If it crashes just turn it on and off again. Whole dash lit up like a Christmas tree after a quick go. Guy at the garage said it was probably just a dodge fuse but it did cause some severe buttock clenching when it happened.
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 22:54, Reply)
If you witness a crash on the motorway but are not involved,
Stop at the next orange emergency phone and report it. Everyone calls it in from their mobiles, but hardly anybody knows EXACTLY where on the motorway they are. The orange phone will pinpoint you to within 1,000 metres, which allows the operator to send the police/wombles more quickly. Even if it's a damage-only crash, the quicker the authorities can clear it up the less time there is for numpties to wander around getting run over in the aftermath.
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 22:35, Reply)
Wavy lines back to about 1995-ish
I had a Honda Prelude at the time (2.3i 4WS, thanks for asking) and the missus was driving for a bit of practice. She rarely drove my cars in those days as she was more familiar with smaller motors and didn't feel too confident in the bigger vehicles I favoured.

Anyhoo, it was a lovely summer's afternoon on the A50 heading towards Stoke. We were in the inside lane, sticking to the speed limit, when a large motorbike with 2-up shot past us at about 85-90.

Shortly after it had gone by, we had to pull out to overtake a slower car or three. About a hundred yards ahead of us, however, all was not well.

A large object fell off the back of the bike and rolled and bounced up the road. Cue brain switching to slow-motion vision mode as we realised it was the pillion passenger and he'd come off the back of the bike. The bouncing was due to him wearing a rucksack that threw him off the ground every time he rolled onto it.

"What should I do?" asked she who must be obeyed.
"Stopping might be a good idea," I suggested.

We pulled up - hard - in the outside lane and put the car's hazards on to protect the biker from following traffic.

By the time we got to him, however, he had got up, taken off his helmet and was sitting, dazed and white as a sheet, on the central Armco barrier.

As the missus is a nurse, she checked on the bloke while I busied myself retrieving his belongings - including his wallet - from where they had been strewn across the tarmac. Someone else had already called an ambulance.

It transpired that the guy and his mate were on their way back from Donington Park following some bike race weekend and the pillion passenger had fallen asleep. We're not entirely sure what had happened next, but given that we could see the toe bones of one foot through what was left of his trainers, it's possible he caught his foot in the chain and been catapulted off.

Landing on the rucksack probably saved his life, but the jeans and trainers did nothing to protect his lower extremities from a severe case of road rash. He'd broken nothing major though, unless you count every toe on one foot, and was able to limp with help to the grass verge before the paramedics arrived.

In the interim, however, some more bikers returning from the race pulled up and demanded to know if we'd knocked him off the bike. Thanks lads, so that's what you get for being a good Samaritan.

Sorry for the lack of funneh, but wanted to tell the story as a warning against leaving the leathers and the biking boots at home in the hot weather.
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 22:33, 9 replies)
Driving in Turkey
I went to rent a car from Eurocar in BFE, Turkey, back in the mid 1980s. At the time I was flitting around Europe and the US for work, and asked the desk clerk on what side of the road they drove in Turkey. With all seriousness she told me that they drive in the shade.

I never drove the car off the lot. I was tired enough as it is, and intended to get my beer on while I was there. Other forms of transport would have to do.

Length? 2 weeks.
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 20:15, 2 replies)
The M5, South of Bristol
Several years ago, my aged father was hacking with the speed of many antelopes down the M5, around Clevedon/Weston-super-Mare. It was, according to him, a clear road with good visibility and he wanted to see what his car could do. I forget what it was - some Japanese saloon/sedan, ISTR. Sure enough, at around a ton, he saw in his rear view mirror the sparkly blue lights that the constabulary turn on in moments of distress (well, they sure cause me to become distressed.)

Aged parent pulls onto the shoulder, puts on hazard lights, opens the window and waits for his ticking off. Motorcycle officer parks up, dismounts and slowly walks to the car. It seems to have taken an age, if you listen to the AP tell the story.

First words out of the police officer's mouth were "are you having trouble taking off, sir?" before telling my Dad what a naughty boy he was, and letting him off with a warning. I've heard from a couple of other people to whom this happened that, about 15 years ago, this police officer would approach anyone he pulled over in the same way.

Sadly, I never met him. I only ever got caught speeding in Geordieland somewhere (93 in a rat-box escort, downhill with the wind behind me, racing to a wedding for which I was late), and outside Gila Bend in Arizona. Maybe I'll write the latter one up. It was quite an experience.
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 20:02, Reply)
No funnies I'm afraid,
but I hope this will make life easier for someone sometime.

A few years ago I was driving home down the A5 near Coventry and Rugby. It's a busy road that alternates between dual and single carriageway (it's single carriageway at this point). It's commuter time and it's busy. A massive line of cars, but we're all moving, albeit plodding along at about 50. There's a lorry infront of me and just a line of cars behind. Everyone's just trying to get to work.

All of a sudden there's a sickening crunch/bang. The lorry infront of me swerves violently to the right into a gap in the oncoming traffic, it's rear tyres on the trailer locked, screaming and smoking and I'm now heading straight for a stationary lorry which was infront of the one that swerved. I'm sensible in queues like this so had time to stop.

There's been a crash. I'm already out of my car and running to see if I can help, I'm first aid trained and that's all that's in my mind. The lorry which swerved has now stopped awrkwardly across the road but I'm ignoring that.

I was behind three lorries. The first one had stopped, suddenly. The second hadn't noticed and just drove straight into the back of the first. The third swerved out the way and is blocking oncoming traffic. I'm stood in the middle of the road now, looking at the crash which happened somewhere around 20 seconds ago.

I see the cab, squashed. I see oil and glass. I can smell diesel, the road is covered in it. I see blood. Blood dripping from the cab, out from under the door. The driver in the crushed cab is slumped over the wheel. Blood is pouring from his head and covering him.

I look back to my car and I see the most horrific thing I think I've ever seen. I see just my car. It's still running and the driver's door is open, I literally just jumped out and ran to help. And I see a queue of traffic. That's it. I see a queue of traffic as far back as I can see the road. I see people. Lots of people, all just sitting in their cars and I freeze. There's very little sound. The cars are all stopped and the crash happened probably 40 seconds ago.

I'm the only person who thought to help. I'm now stood in the middle of the road watching a man die and I'm the only one who cares. I'm still frozen. I look back to the injured man and I'm trying to think, trying to do the right thing. All sorts of things are running through my head. I'm looking for hazards, am I going to make myself a victim? I'm trying to figure out what to do, I'm tryng to think. Should I go and get my first aid kit or should I be trying to get him out of the cab? My head is full but I can't think straight.

I'm the only one and all of a sudden the pressure is all on me. And I can't think straight and I don't know what to do.

This time when I look back up the road I see a man running toward me. He was maybe 25 cars back in the queue and he's running to help, running past all the other people who are just annoyed by the delay. The spell breaks and I get my phone out. Dead. I run to the car behind mine. There's a young lady in a suit who winds her window down. I tell her to phone for an ambulance, that there's a man trapped, alive but bleeding badly. She says her phone is out of credit and I reminder her that she can still call 999 and she does.

The man running to help is here now and together we get my first aid kit and go to the truck. As it happens there's very little we can do. The door is crushed shut and we can only reach through the window. We clean up some blood from his face and he starts to come round. He's semi conscious now and breathing heavily and trying to scream. I'll never forget that.

But we're functioning. We get the medics on the phone and we're told the air ambulance is on it's way. I'm on an adrenaline high and shaking but we're doing the right thing and helping. The air ambulance arrives and everything is OK now. They get the guy out the cab. He's fully conscious now and actually hobbles to the helicopter and is taken to hospital. He survives, unlike his truck which is almost unrecognizable.

The police turn up in a bit and we give statements. This takes a little while and then we're on our way. I worked with my family at the time and had called quickly to tell them I'd be late. When I get to work I'm all ready to give this big story of drama and heroics but as soon as I see my mother I break down. The adrenaline has gone and I've got nothing left.

It was a horrible crash but the worst thing was that I was the only one who tried to help. Until the other guy came running from his car right up the queue to help I was the only one who cared. All the pressure was on my shoulders and I froze.

So, how am I hoping this will make someone's life easier? Simple. If you see something where you could help, for fuck's sake help. Even if someone is already there and you don't know first aid or whatever you wouldn't believe the difference it makes knowing you're not the only one and the pressure isn't all on you. I don't know what I would have done if the other guy hadn't come to help.

Sorry for the lack of funnies. I cried a lot writing that because if what could have been. It still haunts me that so many people could just ignore another person like that. No words can describe the sheer emptiness I felt when I realised no-one else cared.

I hope you b3tards are better people than the commuters on the A5 that day. Please just do the right thing and help.

I'll be back in a bit to check for spelling and grammar etc, not feeling up to it at the moment so I apologise for any smelling pistakes.
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 19:21, 12 replies)
Geo Prism
I'd only just started driving and my brother and I bought a 96 Geo Prism off his girlfriend for $400. Nice buy, 0-60 in a fortnight and we were strongly advised not to use the Cruise Control 'as the wires are a bit loose so we're not sure what could happen' but this was my first motor and it was fine by me. No tint either which doesn't go down well in Orlando.

Anyway, off I was to meet a friend of mine who was going to let me do a short DJ set on the local college radio. Well excited about this I was but the (then) Mrs insists I join her for a cup of coffee (tea for me) first. This was one of those occasions where you have to show face lest piss her off.

So I'm bombing my way up the I4 and pull over at one point to fill her up (the car, not the mrs). Full tank of petrol and I'm back on the road, Saturday afternoon doing about 60 with the flow. All of a sudden, the car in front of me pulls out to the left lane and I'm stuck staring at the back of a stopped minivan in the middle of the road. I'm glad to say that I screamed in quite a manly fashion before ploughing into the back of this car which was stopped dead. It was quite scary hearing the tyres screaming against the road and yet not feeling the car slow at all. I looked to the side of me and remember seeing the face of the driver of the car located at my 7 o'clock - complete panic as he thought I was going to slam into him from the side. If I'd tried to do that I'd probably have flipped the car, and I was at a point in the road which was raised above another, with a nice drop in between traffic directions. Didn't really want to do that, then.

So I slammed the passenger side of the bonnet into the driver's side rear of the car. Airbags go off (ending the debate as to whether they actually worked or not) and my lungs get filled with white powder. I tense up and wait for the imminent collision from behind (ooh-er mrs), which luckily didn't happen.

I opened the door and stepped clumsily into the road (remember this is a 3 lane highway on a busy Saturday afternoon) and have a couple of people run up to me to see if I'm ok, which was nice. Some lads jump out and help me push her to the hard shoulder which was cool too, apart from being dazed and managing to lock my keys in the car like a twat. Had to sit there waiting for help watching the windscreen wipers forlornly screech across the window which was a bit of a twist of the knife.

Turns out, the driver I'd just hit was J-Lo's bass player. Random. He was a nice chap, gave me a bottle of water and we were having a bit of a chat (apparently J-Lo does insist on everything in her dressing room being white; it's some religious thing he said).

Copper turns up and genuinely looks surprised and wary when I put out my hand to shake his, but he does it anyway. What pissed me off was Florida's no fault law saying because I hit him it was my fault. Despite me saying to the copper that it wasn't and I had no time to stop, even being TWO car's distances behind, and EVEN though the other fella said it was his fault. Still, no. I think OB took pity though because he didn't give me a ticket.

Still, I got to be in a car crash relatively unhurt, and the insurance paid out $1,400 - make a smooth grand out of it!

Bad part was watching my bird drive past in the other direction while I was waiting for a tow truck. Good part was her feeling guilty because she'd pressured me into going to see her. Bad part was not getting to be on the radio or see American Gangster after which had just come out in the cinema. Good part was making a grand, and the fact I'd put my records and laptop into flight cases for the trip which probably saved them both.
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 17:52, Reply)
When I go driving, I stay in my lane...
I was taught to drive by my (thankfully now-ex) husband, who had so many points and offences on his licence that he was facing jail if he was caught speeding/drink-driving again.

My car was a Corsa SRi. I loved it. I drove it everywhere. I made a point of ensuring everyone could hear the music I was playing (anything from Rage Against the Machine, to Flaming Lips, Metallica, Offspring etc...). I was probably a nightmare to anyone else on the road as I attempted to thrash the life out of that little car (as I say, my ex-husband did the teaching, and I learnt his driving style!)

6 weeks after buying my Corsa, I was driving home to Derby from Nottingham. This was my daily commute of 17 miles each way, and I found a little fast driving to be the perfect way to unwind after a day in the office. On this particular day, I was listening to Bad Habit by The Offspring while queuing in slow moving traffic to get onto the A52. And this is the story of how I managed to write off a 6 week old car, at 10 miles an hour. Sing along with me, if you will....

BUT GETTING CUT OFF, IT MAKES ME INSANE! (as if on cue, a taxi driver in a Skoda cuts in front of me, causing me to brake sharply)
OPEN THE GLOVE BOX... etc etc.. Just as I'm singing (shouting?) along, and directing the words at the Skoda driver, the guy behind drives straight into the back of my car and shunts me into the Skoda. My poor Corsa was crushed to half it's size, and despite being devastated about my car being ruined, I couldn't help but be a little bit chuffed about the soundtrack it happened to.

Looking back, I'm more surprised it took me a whole 6 weeks to write it off, considering the way I drove it!
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 17:45, 1 reply)
One fine day, on a quiet M62
Yes, bizarrely, there was very little traffic going over the top of the moors that afternoon, to the point where I was happily doing 70-ish (officer) in the inside lane.

In the distance I spotted a dark speck in lane 3, which quickly resolved into the shape of a black Citroen AX, containing a young couple, pootling along at about 65 mph.

I decided to be polite and cross into lane 3 well behind him so he could see me coming and move back into the lane he should be in on an empty road. However, my car must have been of Transylvanian manufacture, because he obviously couldn't see me in his mirrors.

After a mile or so, I decided that the best option to continue my progress unimpeded would be to nip back into lane 2 and drift past.

Unfortunately, the Citroen driver took being undertaken on an empty road when he was hogging lane 3, as an affront to his masculinity. For the next 10 miles, he sat on my back bumper with his headlights on full beam and didn't even attempt to overtake me until he eventually reached his junction and peeled away.

(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 17:35, 6 replies)

This question is now closed.

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